By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal
SPRING LAKE – The Spring Lake boys basketball team reached back and found a way to win Friday night, slipping past the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders 49-45.
The victory moves the Lakers into sole possession of first place in the Lakes Eight Conference standings with a 4-0 record while the Crusaders fell back to 4-1.
Both teams had been 8-2 overall going into the game.
Foul problems hampered both teams, but Spring Lake won out by having Kyle Zietlow sink five of his seven free throws in the last 1:05 of play.
Zietlow played his first game after having been sidelined by recent ankle problems. He also helped out with eight rebounds.
“I was still 50-50 on playing Zietlow on Thursday,” said Spring Lake Coach Bill Core, who collected his 200th career victory in boys hoops.
“But during a luncheon at Spring Lake Country Club Thursday he and Keegan George convinced me to let Zietlow play. Kyle got a lot more minutes than I was planning, but he got enough free throws down the stretch for us.”
The game featured aggressive play throughout. The two teams had 35 fouls called on them through three quarters.
But the Crusaders wasted their opportunities at the free throw line, only sinking 14 of 31.
“We had to kind of scramble to get this victory,” Core said. “They missed a lot of key free throws down the stretch. They hit only four of 11 fourth-quarter free throws, and we made enough when it counted.”
Spring Lake had balanced scoring, with Zietlow finishing with 12 points, George adding 10 points and Nathan Batts chipping in nine. Batts, George and Cameron Ball each had three assists for Spring Lake, which sank 17 of its 29 free throws.
Dominic Woodard had 12 points to top Muskegon Catholic, while Christian Martinez had nine points and Zachary Huston added six.
“I’m happy for the kids (in playing hard). It’s just tough to have a loss,” said Crusader coach Lamar Jordan. “It was a physical game.”